Allergy/Asthma Information Association

Summary: Opinion related to the evaluation of Lupin for labelling purposes

European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) NDA Panel
adopted on 6 December 2005;
(Request No. EFSA-Q-2005-086)

Lupin (genus Lupinus, subfamily Papilionaceae, family Leguminosae) is a legume which includes over 450 species. Lupinus albus (white lupin, Mediterranean countries), Lupinus luteus (yellow lupin, Central Europe), Lupinus angustifolius (blue lupin, Australia) are used for human and animal consumption. Lupin seeds have been part of normal food intake since ancient times and are consumed as snacks in several European countries. Since the introduction of lupin flour as an ingredient in wheat flour in the 1990s for its nutritional and food processing qualities, lupin consumption became more widespread in Europe.

Allergic reactions to lupin have been documented. IgE-binding proteins of lupin flour extracts have been identified and show in vitro cross-reactivities with peanut and other legumes, although the most clinically relevant cross-reactions are with peanut proteins. There is no definite indication that technological treatments alter the allergenic potential of lupin, although reduction in allergenicity has been reported after autoclaving lupin seeds at 138°C for 30 minutes.

The frequency of allergic reactions to lupin in the general population is unknown. Most, though not all, allergic reactions have been reported in peanut allergic individuals. The possibility of under-reporting of allergy cases cannot be excluded, as until recently lupin was a hidden ingredient in various bakery and meat products. One controlled study in peanut allergic patients suggests a clinically relevant cross-reactivity rate of about 30%, but higher (68%) rates have been reported. Clinical reactions range from mild local reactions to systemic anaphylaxis. Ingested doses of lupin flour reported to have triggered clinical reactions range from 265 to 1000 mg, but the lowest dose triggering reactions has not been established.

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Note: The use of lupin has been more prevalent in Europe but it may be found in North America particularly in products imported from Europe where it may be used to replace cereal grains or soy in the form of lupin flour or lupin bran. It may also be encountered in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines in the form of lupin beans. It has traditionally prepared as a snack known as lupini. If added to prepackaged foods in Canada the list of ingredients should indicate the presence of lupin, lupine, lupin flour, lupine flour, lupin bran, lupine bran or lupini. In some countries lupin flour is be used in breads, cereal or pasta.

from Allergy & Asthma News, Issue 3 2005

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